Retrospective: The Fellowship of the Ring 20th Anniversary

By Joan Amenn “A wizard is never late… nor is he early. He arrives precisely when he means to.” -Gandalf the Grey The twentieth anniversary of “The Fellowship of the Ring” (2001) arrives this weekend, precisely on time for its fans to start their annual viewing marathon of the trilogy as a whole. Evaluated on its own merits, “Fellowship” is a breathtaking achievement although at … Continue reading Retrospective: The Fellowship of the Ring 20th Anniversary

In Their Own League Advent Countdown: 1. The Thin Man (1934)

By Joan Amenn Mr. and Mrs. Charles (William Powell, Myrna Loy) have just arrived in New York City for the holiday season and they are ready to party! However, there seems to have been a murder committed and Nick Charles is called out of retirement to solve it, mostly to amuse his wife. Noir, comedy and season’s greetings all mix uniquely in “The Thin Man” … Continue reading In Their Own League Advent Countdown: 1. The Thin Man (1934)

The Big Sleep and the Femme Noir: #Noirvember Retrospective

By Joan Amenn Few actresses are indelibly linked to the genre of film noir as Lauren Bacall. Thanks in no small part to her falling in love with her co-star Humphrey Bogart while making her film debut in “To Have and Have Not” (1944) Bacall became the female counterpart to his noir “tough guy” image. Their chemistry was so electric they were teamed up two … Continue reading The Big Sleep and the Femme Noir: #Noirvember Retrospective

Retrospective: 20th Anniversary of Monsters, Inc.

By Joan Amenn Back when Pixar was still a relatively new up and coming animation studio, the plot of their fourth film being a “buddy movie” didn’t sound all that exciting. After all their first and third films had the same theme. But “Monsters Inc.” (2001) proved to be quite different from the rest and remains one of their best conceived and executed movies. From … Continue reading Retrospective: 20th Anniversary of Monsters, Inc.

Retrospective: The Wolfman and the Invisible Man on the Big Screen

By Joan Amenn Universal Studios released a few of their most iconic horror films back into theaters this month and yesterday the double feature was “The Wolfman” (1941) and “The Invisible Man” (1933). These two films represent bookends of the genre, in a sense. One focuses on the theme of humanity delving into forbidden knowledge, specifically through science. The other’s plot suggests that there are … Continue reading Retrospective: The Wolfman and the Invisible Man on the Big Screen

Nosferatu: A Bold Vision of a Familiar Story

a story become too familiar? After almost a century of Dracula narratives, whether they are adapted directly from the Bram Stoker novel or not, the character and his arc feels as familiar as a family heirloom, passed down the generations. This is part of why F.W. Murnau’s “Nosferatu” is the adaptation of the
story I come back to more often than any other- Murnau’s film feels like an oddity, like that weird uncle you don’t really want to talk about. And yet, it still has a place in the family, because the DNA remains constant. Continue reading Nosferatu: A Bold Vision of a Familiar Story

Women of Summer Retrospective: The Mummy

Year: 1999 Runtime: 124 minutes Director: Stephen Sommers Writers: Stephen Sommers, Lloyd Forvielle, Kevin Jarre Cast: Rachel Weisz, Brendan Fraser, John Hannah, Arnold Vosloo, Jonathan Hyde, Oded Fehr, Kevin J. O’Connor, Patricia Velasquez, Bernard Fox By Joan Amenn “I am proud of what I am…I am a Librarian!” -Evelyn Carnahan (Rachel Weisz) In the 1990’s Universal Studios explored the idea of rebooting their perennially popular … Continue reading Women of Summer Retrospective: The Mummy

Pre-Code April: Baby Face

With it’s strong message of female empowerment and the power of seduction and exploitation, it’s hard to imagine that a film like “Baby Face” was actually released in 1933. This was long before Cardi B exploded on to the scene with her 2020 post me-too feminist anthem “WAP” , the song includes lyrics that state the following: “I don’t cook, I don’t clean. But let me tell you how I got this ring” and “Pay my tuition just to kiss me”. One can only imagine Lily Powers grinning to herself hearing this.) It’s interesting to deconstruct and analyse “Baby Face” in this day and age, when feminine sexuality is so mainstream. You only have to look at the rise in popularity of cam girls and OnlyFans to see how women have gone from being slaves to becoming masters. Continue reading Pre-Code April: Baby Face

Women’s History Month Retrospective: Hypocrites (1915)

Runtime: 54 minutes Director: Lois Weber Writer:  Lois Weber Actors: Courtenay Foote, Myrtle Stedman, Herbert Standing, Adele Farrington By Joan Amenn In honor of Women’s History Month, Kino streaming service has made available the perceptive and groundbreaking film “Hypocrites”(1915) by Lois Weber. In just under an hour, Weber manages to skewer the pretensions and prejudices of her early 20th Century society that seem very similar … Continue reading Women’s History Month Retrospective: Hypocrites (1915)

Kathryn Bigelow – Masculinity through an Empathetic Lens

To fulfill the desire of the audience, but challenge the genre and status quo, popular and well-known directors, Kathryn Bigelow established her cinematic work in this unique war genre most notably in the 82nd Academy Awards Best Picture winner: The Hurt Locker. Bigelow also received Best Director at the Oscars for this film, and still remains the only woman to ever do this, and one of five women to have ever been nominated. Through the careful and considerate use of character development, mise-en-scene, and camera-work the film displays empathy, patriotism, and accuracy to convey its anti-war themes, focusing around the experience of war through one dynamic and conflicted character. Continue reading Kathryn Bigelow – Masculinity through an Empathetic Lens